Results of a new study have just been released regarding breastfeeding and its confirmed protective effect against infections. This is very exciting and up-to-date news. While we all know by know that breastfeeding is beneficial to both the mother and the child, there is still some gray area over how long to breastfeed and what duration of breastfeeding is required to see any measurable difference.
Apparently this particular study has found that breastfeeding as little as four months can protect the infant from respiratory and gastrointestinal infections. More specifically, infants that were breastfed for 4 months had a significant decrease in risk for acquiring both upper and lower respiratory infections and GI infections for a period of at least 6 months. Benefits are only seen with exclusive breastfeeding, partial breastfeeding does not provide the same protective effects.
In light of this study, it is important to remember that current World Health Organization (WHO) guidelines still recommend 6 months of exclusive breastfeeding. However, it is nice to know that even if you can’t breastfeed that long, there are still benefits. (1)
1. Duijts, L., V. W. Jaddoe, et al. (2010). "Prolonged and Exclusive Breastfeeding Reduces the Risk of Infectious Diseases in Infancy." Pediatrics.